Research: Telescoping Steering Column Retrofit

Overall, I love the size of my Bugeye WRX. I feel more connected to the car just sitting in the driver’s seat in my garage. Current “compact” cars just feel bulky and cumbersome now.

Bugeye at Foothills Parkway

However, my main issue in the Bugeye is legroom. At 6 foot 1, and most of that coming from my legs, I get leg and knee pain after prolonged driving (i.e. – rush hour wreck, or 3 hours+ road trip). This is probably due to not being able to press the clutch or brake pedals from a decent angle as my knees hit the steering wheel most of the time. And if I’m not paying attention during spirited driving, my leg will get caught between the steering wheel and a not quite fully released clutch pedal; which is super fun.

There’s no leg pain from the general operation, it just creeps in over time. Ergonomically, I sit about one click from the last setting on the seats and the steering wheel is at its highest setting. I removed the floor mat as well for the extra room. Sitting any further back and I will need old-school Cadillac like steering and probably some shoes with thick soles to fully depress the clutch pedal. Not exactly a driver’s setup.

So, I’ve been researching my options. The obvious solution would be to buy a different car. The first Subaru WRX to come with a telescoping steering wheel was the GH/GR chassis. Aesthetically, I love the GR hatches, however, after driving a GD chassis for a few years those cars feel enormous to me now.

My old 2009 WRX

One area of improvement is the steering wheel. The Bugeye wheel is 385mm in diameter while the 04-07 STi steering wheel is 375mm. In a game of inches, 10mm is a decent improvement (see above for floor mat removal). Hell, what shoes I wear make a big difference. I installed a DAMD-D steering wheel on my 2005 STi. It measured out at 358mm and is flat on the bottom for extra leg room. I loved that setup.

DAMD-D Steering Wheel in my old 2005 STi

The two main downsides to the DAMD-D steering wheel are the cost (~$500 + 3-spoke airbag) and the aesthetics. I think Bugeye interiors look great with the Momo steering wheel unfortunately, there aren’t any aftermarket solutions that accommodate the Bugeye steering wheel airbag.

The D-shaped steering wheel is expensive, but we are talking about prime real estate here. And aesthetically, I would want the STi center console to match. And perhaps that blue carpet as well. You can see this snowballing already. I don’t know the weight difference between the Bugeye and the 05-07 STi interiors, but I have noticed that full STi swapped Bugeyes tend to be front heavy cars again. I like the simplistic interior of the Bugeye so this may just be a case of dealing with the aesthetics and gaining the functionality.

Another option would be an aftermarket steering wheel without an airbag. I don’t really care for a quick-release setup so I would probably go with a permanent mounting solution. I’m super excited about not having an airbag, although, I’m not thrilled with having a +10 year old airbag either. Especially considering the mess going on with Takata.

However, before any of that happens, I want to look at retrofitting a telescoping steering column from a 08-14 WRX/STi. These can be had for pretty cheap on eBay at around $50 shipped. The goal is to transfer everything possible from the Bugeye column over to the GR column. From looking at pictures, I’m pretty sure the GR column has a larger diameter so the mounts will need to be modified.

And since writing the initial draft of this post some months ago I bought a GR column off of eBay. I haven’t done much other than an unboxing and tucking it away. Once school slows down a bit I have time to play around with this.


Hopefully, the additional adjustments from a telescoping steering column along with a smaller steering wheel will give me the extra leg room I need so I can enjoy my Bugeye for years to come.

Stay tuned.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s